SALEM, OR – Five county sheriffs in Oregon – with possibly more to come – are refusing to enforce a strict new gun control law passed last week by voters, with several saying that it circumvents the Second Amendment and will represent a strain on law enforcement resources while failing to address the root causes of violent crime.
Sheriff Cody Bowen of Union County stated in an interview that the issue with gun violence is not firearms themselves, but the underlying mental health issues of those carrying out shootings.
“The biggest thing is this does absolutely nothing to address the problem,” he said. “The problem that we have is not … magazine capacity. It’s not background checks. It’s a problem with mental health awareness. It’s a problem with behavior health illness. Our society as a whole is a bigger problem rather than saying that, you know, the guns are killing people.”
Measure 114, passed last week – on a close vote of 51 percent to 49 percent – enacted some of the harshest gun control measures in the United States. Among the provisions in the law is the ban of magazines that contain more than 10 rounds of ammunition and a mandated customer state police background check for every firearm sale made by a licensed dealer.
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Several sheriffs statewide have balked at the new law and have vowed not to enforce it; in addition to Bowen, Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan, in a Facebook post, also voiced her opposition to the gun control measures, saying that “The Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits.”
Other members of law enforcement that have stated that they would not be a party to enforcing the new restrictions include Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey, Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock, and Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe, who told the media policing the restrictions would distract from more important department matters.
“It would take away from the things that we’re doing every day to try to keep people safe,” Wolf said. “Restricting people from ownership of guns in my opinion, is not going to help anything. We’re going to make it harder for people to purchase guns for self-defense.”